In India, people wait to eat together with family, near and dear ones insist you join for dinner, grandkids are spoiled with food and people having hard times are often gifted food. Food is a symbol of love. Cooking is more of an art and food is luscious only when the secret ingredient of love is added. This article is a discourse of how food is considered an expression of love and why culinary prowess matters in India.
From Thukpa to Dosa Sambar and from Chole Bhature to Butter Chicken, everything is shared by everyone and it is all about love. Once fresh pickle is made by grandmother, everyone in the family hovers around her to be fed, waiting for their turn. In Langars, as well as in community festivities, everyone sits together and savors the food crafted out of love. When children come home from boarding schools, mothers prepare the kids’ favorite food items even if they themselves might not prefer those. Food is considered to play a very significant part in every woman’s life: every girl is taught cooking at a tender age and after marriage, the newly- wed bride is expected to cook the first meal. There is another aspect to this- having food together or cooking food for someone can actually nurture the bond among people. It helps one spend quality time and assert it that they do have someone to stand by them.
In India, everyone is taught from childhood that food must be shared- even with strangers. And these minor things matter a lot in the country. Women don’t cook randomly. They take into consideration the ingredients available, preferences of everyone that will be present for the meal, the season, the allergies as well as health conditions of people. So, it is obvious- cooking is actually a big deal! Another thing that needs mention is the way food is presented. The dining place is laid out splendidly in most households. Chinaware is used to present the food graciously. One would surely think the host is lackadaisical had the food not been served properly. Presentation is hence, an expression of love. Cooking someone’s favorite dish, going out for food with someone special, sharing your favorite food with them or waiting for them so as to have a meal together are the expressions of love that are highly appreciated.
Cooking is intimidating for many young girls but these are the very people who master cooking dishes that their family members love. Many learn baking cakes without using ovens, making soups and wonderful street food at home just so that everyone at home eats healthy.
Isn’t this a labor of pure love? Why would one cook so carefully had the final product not reflected love? Even when someone offers to order food, many women don’t agree- they have a detailed menu prepared in their heads beforehand, taking into account everyone’s preferences. They know quantity doesn’t matter and that quality does. Also, no one ever fancies having a meal without company. Having a meal with someone’s company is something that everyone craves. Many also prepare one’s favorite food when they can’t really be of help to a unhappy person, but this food does help soothe their souls. There are a whole lot of women that somehow develop culinary skills in order to express their love, once they find themselves a partner. Nothing can ever match the love expressed by sharing one’s favorite ice cream, having lesser food so that someone you love can have a greater share or even learning a new recipe so that your loved ones can eat to their heart's content. And who doesn’t like a delicious dessert that mothers make even after one gets a bad score in an examination? The examples are countless. Isn’t food still an emblem of love? Isn’t understanding the kind of food one would need in order to satiate one’s hunger while also comforting them a commendable form of art?
As Sarah Strohmeyer quotes in her novel, Sweet Love, "See that's what people don't get about food. It's never the food, it's the love that goes into making it. That's what's important,”. Cooking food for your loved ones is a wonderful experience for sure. Many men, too, try their hand at cooking. And it surely is a great memory. There could be people that don’t really associate love with food but there is a majority that does feel nostalgic whenever they see, taste or smell a particular dish that they can connect with important events (or even very trivial ones) in their lives. There has never been and there can never be a better expression of love than food.
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